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  • Writer's pictureJeff Kaldahl

Embracing Heritage: Our Journey to Kaamulan Festival

In April, The Rising staff and our scholars traveled to partake in the celebration of our scholars' culture at the prestigious "Kaamulan" festival.

The anticipation among our scholars was palpable, as this marked our very first time coming together to revel in the splendor of Kaamulan. Undeterred by the darkness and fog that shrouded the roads, we courageously set off as early as 3:00 AM, eager to witness one of the festival's most captivating highlights—the enchanting street dancing.


As we arrived, the road was already bustling with a diverse tapestry of people. The local community, including the venerable elder generation, mingled harmoniously with enthusiastic foreign visitors who had journeyed to immerse themselves in the essence of this cultural extravaganza.

This vibrant celebration of Bukidnon's ethnic groups takes place annually in the provincial capital, Malaybalay City, where our founder, Leah, resided for a year when she began her missions in Mindanao. Spanning from March 23 to April 23, the festival showcases the indigenous culture through a series of captivating events, including a civic parade, a street-dancing competition, the beauty contest "Laga Ta Bukidnon," and an immersive ethnic dance clinic.


Over time, Kaamulan has grown into the large festival it is today, highlighting not only the diverse culture of its people but also the products and services the province supports though the Food Fest, Kaamulan Bazaar, Garden Show, Agri-fair, and Livestock Show.


Witnessing the festival's captivating performances featuring tribal dances and traditional costumes was truly heartwarming. It was evident that Kaamulan passionately preserves the rich cultural legacy of the indigenous people. The festival serves as a unifying force, not only among the hill tribes but also among visitors and foreigners, bridging the past to the present. Through our dedicated scholars, the vibrant stories of their ancestors will continue to be shared, ensuring the meaningful connection to identity perseveres for the new generation. Kaamulan Festival stands as a powerful testament to the enduring spirit of tradition, unity, and the profound significance of cultural heritage.


Scholar Cristy's Remarkable Moment with Vice President Sara Duterte!

In an display of determination, our scholar Cristy found herself at the forefront as Vice President Sara Duterte engaged with the local crowd. Despite the security fence, Cristy navigated through the sea of people, determined to capture a photo of this special moment. Witnessing her earnest efforts, the Vice President graciously stooped down to Cristy's level, ensuring she could take a clear and unforgettable selfie. It was a great example of tenacity paying off!!


What is this Spiky Fruit? It's called Durian!

Filipinos have developed a profound affection for this exotic delicacy. Durian is famous for its distinct and lingering aroma, often described as strong and pungent, which some liken to rotten food (making it off-limits in airports and hotel rooms to avoid inconveniencing others!). However, beneath its unique scent lies a delightful surprise—the fruit offers a delicious taste and a texture reminiscent of a creamy ice cream bar.


Walking Tall - The Filipino Counterpart to walking on stilts called "Kadang-Kadang"

In the Philippines, we have our own version of stilt walkers seen in parks and circuses. We call it "Kadang-Kadang" or "Karang" (Cebuano) and "Tiyakad" (Tagalog), known as Bamboo Stilts. It's deeply ingrained in our culture, especially among boys who craft their own stilts. With a sense of pride, they master the art of balance, walking long distances with finesse.


The Kaleidoscope of Kaamulan: Colorful Costumes that Tell Tales

In Kaamulan Festival, the indigenous people don vibrant costumes adorned with anklets, necklaces, trinkets, and more. Red dominates while strong colors like yellow, black, and white create intricate designs. Each tribe's unique costumes distinguish them from one another, revealing their rich identities in a visual spectacle.



Symbolic Unity in Colorful Adornments: The Tribal Necklaces of Kaamulan

Each tribe proudly adorns themselves with a unique and fashionable necklace, meticulously crafted with thousands of multi-colored diamond-shaped beads. Symbolizing the unity of the seven tribes into one Bukidnon, these necklaces are an exquisite representation of their collective heritage. With each tribe's distinct color preferences, the dominant use of black signifies the Tigwahanon, vibrant red showcases the Bukidnon, yellow holds a special place for the Higaonon, white takes precedence for the Manobo, while you won't find yellow on any necklaces of the Talaandig tribe.



Preserving Cultural Heritage: The Majestic Panika Headdresses

Exquisite fan-like headdresses known as "Panika" hold a special place in Higaonon culture, crafted from native materials like bamboo sticks, chicken feathers, and yarn thread. The Panika is more than just an accessory; it carries a profound meaning. It represents a sacred duty to safeguard the cultural legacy of the Higaonon people. Anyone who dons this headdress takes on a solemn commitment to uphold and preserve the traditions that define their community. The Panika serves as a symbol of reverence and dedication to the vibrant heritage of the Higaonon people, ensuring their traditions endure for generations to come.



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